EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Most college football rivalries are steeped in intrastate hatred, conference connections or both.
The Notre Dame-Michigan State showdown, which on Saturday night at Spartan Stadium will occur for the 76th time, has a unique hook.
Before the classic, 10-10, tie between the nations top-ranked teams in 1966, with Fighting Irish coach Ara Parseghian electing to run out the clock, there was a party invitation of sorts from the Irish to the Spartans.
And that extending of a hand created a rivalry that, while definitely heated on the field, remains remarkably cordial and respectful everywhere else.
People who know the history of it understand how important Notre Dame was to Michigan State, said George Perles, MSUs coach for 1983-94. Before we were in the Big Ten, Notre Dame was the first to schedule us regularly.
"We give a lot of credit to Notre Dame for helping us start out. The presidents of both schools along the way have been so instrumental in this.